Contrary to their previous assertions, senior executives at the embattled Swedish telecom TeliaSonera were fully aware they were working with the daughter of Uzbekistan's dictator's when they opened a subsidiary in that country, according to emails recently submitted to the Swedish courts.
TeliaSonera is in court facing bribery charges for the 2007 deal in which it spent $320 million on a license to begin operating in Uzbekistan, as we recently explained in depth in an OCCRP feature. The company that sold TeliaSonera the license, Takilant Ltd., turned out to be an offshore shell corporation run by a close friend of the Uzbek dictator's daughter, Gulnara Karimova. Prosecutors claim Takilant was laundering the payment as a pay-to-play bribe from TeliaSonera to the Uzbek regime.
Since the deal first came under suspicion, in September of 2012, TeliaSonera has claimed it had no idea Takilant was connected to Karimova or her father, or that the ruler and his family were involved in the negotiation. These emails, obtained by the Swedish News Agency, prove otherwise.
"Here is the information about the Uzbek partner, Gulnara Karimova," begins one 2007 email from the manager of the negotiations. Another stressed the need to reach a deal with "the Karimova team," noting that "the top elite around President Karimov manages the telecom sector."
The e-mails will be considered at a January 9th Swedish Court of Appeals hearing on the freezing of Takilant Ltd.'s assets as part of the ongoing investigation.